A soldier reported that she was assaulted by a small group of Afghan refugees at a shelter complex set up for the refugees in New Mexico, Fort Bliss officials said.
A Fort Bliss statement said the assault happened Sept. 19 at the Fort Bliss Doña Ana County Range Complex about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of El Paso, Texas.
“We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said a Fort Bliss statement.
The soldier was reporting for her shift around midnight when three to four men attacked her, according to a U.S. Defense Department official. She had minor physical injuries and was able to get away. She was not sexually assaulted, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The official said that soldiers on duty operate with a buddy system, but the female soldier was just arriving and had not yet linked up with her buddy for the shift.
The official said that no one had yet been charged and that the FBI was investigating. It was unclear if law enforcement had identified the attackers.
The Fort Bliss statement said the woman was immediately provided “appropriate care, counseling and support” and that security measures at the complex were being strengthened.
U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, the New Mexico Republican representing the district where the complex is situated, said her staff was also investigating.
The U.S. government erected the complex in late August and early September to house thousands of Afghan refugees from the Taliban.
According to the Fort Bliss statement, all Afghan nationals are subjected to “a multi-layer screening and vetting process” before being admitted to the United States.
The process “involves biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals” from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and other intelligence community resources.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.